Breakfast and a Cigarette: A Novella in Four Directions
(page 12 of 16)
“Hey Willy! How about puttin' that snake back in his cage?”
Then Mona heard Candy mutter something that sounded like, “Yeah, both of them.”
Mona turned on her heels and shot a menacing look at Willy.
“You bastard! If I see that little snake of yours anywhere in here I'm gonna cleave it off and throw it in the pickled egg jar. You got that?
In the turbidity of their corner it was impossible to tell for sure, but if a 57-year-old ex-Hells Angel with three hundred square inches of tattoos, more scars than a ward full of appendectomy patients, and a junk habit carefully cultivated since the age of fifteen could be made to blush—he was.
Ray sat down, examining his portrait.
“Hey, that's pretty good. It really looks like me.”
“Yeah, Athena's all right,” said Simon, the puppeteer.
Seated at the table with Ray were Athena, Francie the Irish bagpiper, and Simon. As soon as Ray joined them, Jebediah, a tall Rastafarian accordion player marched blithely through the door and pulled up a chair at the little round table.
“Hey Rasta man! How goes the crusade?”
“Very well, Simon. You know, the accordion and Jimmy Cliff is a tremendous combination—Simon, how was the attendance at your little theater tonight? And Francie lass, how did our pied piper do?”
Francie, in her best Irish accent, filled in Jebediah and the rest of the troupe.
“Oh well now, let me see, oh yes, I believe I conned the poor beggars out of nearly one hundred dollars, give or take a farthing or two. And as me own dear mudder used to say to me before she put me in to me bed and wished the dreams of angels on me...Oh fuck, stop! don't make me do that shit anymore tonight!”
“Ah lass,” said Jebediah in his striking Rasta-Irish brogue, “Our poor Irish lass—from Schenectady, New York—must be losing her old silvery gift of gab, she must. Have you insulted the wee people, then? To be bringing this plague upon your house?”
Athena couldn't resist the brogue and turned her southern drawl northward.
“Oh, but I wish you would all stop this devlin' business. I wish you would and I wish that you—me dear rasta man, would kindly consider us all your friends and dear comrades as surely we are or at least consider us to be long enough to buy us a round and we'd all be blessin' you and hope that your soul, all rasta and dreaded as it is, will be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you're dead.”
They all laughed, even Ray, but he didn't get it. So he asked.
Francie took a long sip of her beer and explained.
“You see Ray, it's like this. When I play, I always throw in a little patter between the tunes. You know, explain the differences between the Irish pipes and the Scottish pipes. And if I was gonna play a traditional song, I would give its origin, that kind of crap. Then one night, I don't know why, I started talking with an Irish brogue—or at least my version of one. Maybe because I was thinking how much I'd like to go there, play my pipes on the moors...”
“That's Scotland, lass,” interrupted Simon.
“Yeah, whatever. Anyway, I guess it was just in my mind. So I made up a little story about how I came here from the old country—County Killarney...”
“You mean Malarkey, don't you?”
“Simon! Anyway, normally my playing and patter—in the old upstate Schenectady accent—I would take in about fifty to sixty bucks on an average night. But as soon as I became Irish, I doubled my take! They ate it up. All those cheese-heads and slow-talkers from the Midwest, normally they can squeeze sea water out of a nickel—even in Key West. But man they started throwing the dough faster then I could say, 'God bless us and save us said old Mrs. Davis.' Well, all's going well until one night who comes waltzing up Duvall but some arrogant, intellectual, pinheaded puppeteer and catches me in the act. Since then, thanks to you-know-who here, I've never heard the end of it.”
Ray innocently asked Francie if she still does the accent on the street.
Breakfast and a Cigarette, Part II continues...